Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Press Briefing With the Governors Following the New England Governors Conference.

May 15, 1967

[1.] GOVERNOR PHILIP H. HOFF (Vermont). Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.

We are greatly honored today, but before proceeding further, I was going to ask Governor Dempsey if he would say just a few words.

GOVERNOR JOHN N. DEMPSEY (Connecticut). Mr. President, fellow members of your Cabinet, fellow New England Governors, ladies and gentlemen:

Mr. President, we are very honored that you came to visit us today. We are very grateful to you for the wonderful and continued cooperation that you have extended to all of the Governors all over the United States.

As chairman of the Federal-State-local committee, I am very happy to be able to say that to you. But we are grateful to you, Mr. President, for coming here to Connecticut on a bad day, a stormy day, a rainy day. You have kept your word to us that you would come and talk to us about our problems.

So, Mr. President, from all the Governors and from all the people of our States, may we say thank you from the bottom of our hearts and may God bless you as you guide the peace-loving world in the days that lie ahead.

GOVERNOR HOFF. The procedure will be this: I will try in a very general fashion to cover those topics we discussed during the course of the conference this afternoon. From time to time, any of the participants here are free and welcome, and I hope they will, to inject anything additional which they may feel is pertinent.

Following that, there will be questions, although we would hope that you would confine them to the topics on the agenda.

By way of preliminary remarks, May I say this: Over the period of the last year, at least, and particularly over the period of the last 6 months, a new dialogue has been opened between our Federal partners, or our partners in the total Federal system in this country, that is, between the Federal Government and the States, and I think I can safely speak for all of my fellow New England Governors when I say that this has been one of the most encouraging and exciting things that we have seen since each of us became a Governor. It isn't reflected simply in the visit of the President of the United States to this New England area today, although I think this visit in and of itself is indicative of the growing dialogue and of the President's concern.

The President is very determined that the States shall play an effective role in the total, overall governmental scheme of things in this country, and his presence certainly reflects that today.

In addition, however, there have been a number of Cabinet officers here today, and with them it has been exciting to see their increased interest, concern, and innovation in this total relationship.


[2.] Going down to specific items on the agenda--and again I request that each of my fellow Governors and the President, if he sees fit, would inject or come into this at any time that they see fit--the first topic discussed was regional transportation problems.

I think I can honestly say that this conference today, in terms of what came out of this, was, in itself, a sufficient demonstration of the value of this kind of meeting. Primarily, we discussed the question of the New Haven Railroad. It is a very difficult and thorny problem which I am sure Governor Dempsey perhaps can cover better than I can.

Why don't you do that, John?

GOVERNOR DEMPSEY. Mr. President, we had a thorough and perhaps the best discussion on the transportation problem that affects New England, namely, the New Haven Railroad, that we have had in a long, long time.

The President today, in talking with the New England Governors, permitted us to present to him and to his Cabinet a very frank discussion of the New Haven Railroad. We talked about the effect that, of course, the discontinuance of this service would have, not only on New England but all over the United States.

We reminded the members of the Cabinet, particularly those dealing with transportation, that on June 19th, Judge Anderson 1 of the Federal court will hear arguments on creditors and their request for liquidation.

1 Judge Robert P. Anderson of the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

I was delighted, and we all were, by the grasp which President Johnson demonstrated in giving us his help on this problem, and particularly by his directive that immediate action be planned so that we all, by working together, try to guarantee the continuance of our railroad service.

The President suggested to us and to his Cabinet that after hearing our description of the plight of the New Haven Railroad problem, that we all face, that a meeting be held in Washington with Department of Transportation officials this week, Thursday, to plan an action program designed to keep the New Haven Railroad going until, hopefully, we can look forward to the Penn-Central merger.

At this meeting, all of the New England States concerned--Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut (and I might say we are inviting officials from the State of New York to meet with the transportation people on Thursday)--this is the type of action we had hoped for.

Mr. President, thank you for giving us this action today.

GOVERNOR HOFF. Thank you, Governor. Before proceeding further, I would like-and perhaps if they are in the room they can stand--to introduce Secretary Gardner, of Health, Education, and Welfare.

Secretary Boyd, of the Department of Transportation.

The Attorney General, Ramsey Clark.

Acting Secretary of Commerce Trowbridge.

At my immediate right is Farris Bryant, who is head of the Office of Emergency Planning, but, in fact, his real duty is to be the principal liaison between the President and the executive branch of the Federal Government and the Governors.

I think I can safely speak for all of the Governors, not simply of New England but of the country, in saying that the work he has done since he has occupied this position has been monumental. I think he can take a great deal of the credit for the growing and developing relationship that is going on at the present time.

We covered other topics in this general area of transportation, including air, both east-west and other parts of it, and we also covered the need for roads, particularly an east-west road across the northern part of New England.

I have nothing specifically to point to in any of these areas except that just establishing the context was important in and of itself.

GOVERNOR JOHN H. CHAFEE (Rhode Island). Going back to the New Haven Railroad one minute, the President has instructed all the agencies that he can instruct in the Federal Government to give full speed to the consideration of all the problems involved in the New Haven, that is, the Penn-Central merger and the other mergers. I think that will be a big help to us, that we try to get this thing settled as soon as possible.

One of our real problems has been that this thing has been in a limbo for so long. We are very grateful.


[3.] GOVERNOR HOFF. We then covered generally regional economic development, spending most of the time dealing with textile imports.

John King, would you like to cover that?

GOVERNOR JOHN W. KING (New Hampshire). Thank you.

Mr. President, we want to thank you for a very profitable, businesslike, and meaningful discussion in this field. We pointed out the problems in the various States, in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and in New Hampshire, where 13 percent of our people work in the textile industry.

We have been assured by the Federal officials that they are working seriously in extending the import quota program that has been so successful in the cotton industries, to the wool industries. We hope that they will also carry this over to the synthetic fiber industry.

I was very pleased at the discussion that means a great deal to us in our State, and I know my fellow Governors who have large industries working in their States felt very comforted as a result of this discussion.

GOVERNOR JOHN A. VOLPE (Massachusetts). I might add that in Massachusetts we have almost half of the total employment in textiles of New England. For us, it is a very serious problem. We have some of our communities where 27 percent and as much as 46 percent in one community, where the people of those communities are all in textiles.

With the increasing imports from abroad, we find ourselves now in a position where not only have some of our industries fled to the South, but we now find great competition coming from overseas. We are very heartened by the encouragement by the President and very hopeful that the Kennedy Round of negotiations, which will be concluding very shortly, will help us rather than hurt us.

GOVERNOR CHAFEE. In our State we have the heaviest percentage of any of the States in the textile industry, so this is of terrible concern to us. It isn't competition from the South that bothers us now; it is these imports, not only in the cottons which, of course, we have some agreements on now, but in the woolens and the manmade fibers. Hopefully, something can be done on that.

The President was encouraging to us, which is very satisfying, or hopefully satisfying, that something can be worked out.

GOVERNOR HOFF. We also covered some of the problems involving dairy imports, problems involving shoes and their importation.

Governor Curtis, do you want to say anything about that?

GOVERNOR KENNETH M. CURTIS (Maine). I just want to echo the problem which has been expressed by my fellow New England Governors concerning cotton and textile production and the problem of shoe imports in the State of Maine. This was discussed in the same context, that it is the import problem.


[4.] GOVERNOR HOFF. We also covered the New England Regional Commission. This is an economic development commission formed under the Economic Development Act. Governor Volpe is our State cochairman. The Federal cochairman, John Linnehan, is here. Perhaps you will stand, John.

This offers, I think, tremendous potential to the New England area. We are one of the first regions to be fully constituted under this particular act. I personally, and I think my fellow New England Governors share with me, have the feeling that this is something that will be heard from and heard from strongly in the future.

Would you like to say anything more about that, John?

GOVERNOR VOLPE. No. Only that we are certainly the beneficiaries of a piece of legislation here that I think bodes to do as much for New England as a region, as an entity, as anything that has ever happened in our area.

We hope to announce the appointment of an executive director very shortly. We have many problems to study. We feel we have great assets, but we have to find the ways and means of trying to be sure that we grow in those directions in which the growth is available, provided we can eliminate some of our problems.

GOVERNOR HOFF. Thank you, Governor Volpe.

Governor King?


[5.] GOVERNOR KING. We also discussed, even for a short time, the importance and interest of oceanography to all of the New England States. New Hampshire and Maine have a bipartisan commission at the present time, and we have been assured by the President of his continued interest. We have not been forgotten.


[6.] GOVERNOR HOFF. We then spent a fair amount of time dealing with the problems of health, education, and welfare, which fall under the aegis of Secretary Gardner.

Governor Curtis, perhaps you would like to cover that area for us.

GOVERNOR CURTIS. Very briefly, one of the major items that we touched upon was, of course, this matter of water pollution control, which is one of the 20th century's most vexing problems that we face. We did ask the President, within the confines of the public interest, to do all possible to try to restore funds for water pollution control.

Another area that we spent a considerable time on was the area of comprehensive planning, particularly in areas of health. We did ask that the Comprehensive Planning and Development Act, Public Law 89-749,2 be funded as a start toward what we might hope to be the bloc grant concept in Federal grants-in-aid.

2 Comprehensive Health Planning and Public Health Services Amendments of 1966 (Public Law 89-749; 80 Stat. 1180).

I made the statement, disassociated, perhaps, from my other New England Governors, to the effect that I did not believe that the idea of tax-sharing was the answer to our problems; that I felt that the basic approach which held the most promise for the States was that of the bloc grant concept. We did say that we hoped that if this was successful in the area of health, that it could then be extended to education and on to other Federal agencies.

GOVERNOR HOFF. I might add, for the purpose of your information, or perhaps information that you have already, it is interesting to note that since 1963, that is over a span of 3 or 4 years, the amount of money going into health from the Federal Government has gone from $4 billion a year to its existing level of $12 billion. In the field of education, it has gone from $4 billion to approximately the same figure, $12 billion. In our judgment, this is a notable achievement in anybody's definition, and I simply point this out to you as a matter of information.

I would also point out that Secretary Gardner has done, I think, rather a remarkable job in terms of decentralizing the activities falling under his particular department. We have a very strong office of Health, Education, and Welfare located for the regional New England area in Boston. They have unusually capable people. We have been able to establish very good relationships and a very good dialogue. I think Secretary Gardner deserves a great deal of credit for it.


[7.] The last area we covered in a very broad fashion, because time was running out. It was the total area involved in Federal coordination and the role of the Governor. I would again point out to you that the progress that has been made, particularly during the period of the last 6 months, has been one of the most gratifying that all of us as Governors have seen.

It certainly again shows the determination of the President that the States shall be strong and that they shall play a vital role in the overall governmental scheme of things. This does not mean, incidentally, that all the problems have been solved. But we had a representative here from the Bureau of the Budget and he described in some detail some of the work they are doing to better coordinate the various Federal programs today, not only cutting down the numbers of them but moving more into the bloc grant areas. He covered also with us in some detail the attempts they are making to. coordinate planning, which is increasingly a requirement in all Federal programs, and to draw them more closely together so that a plan would qualify for a number of different departments or a number of different programs.

All in all, I think all of us as New Englanders can be exceedingly proud of the progress that has been made under the leadership of the President over the period of the last number of years, and particularly over the period of the last 6 months.

We will open it up to questions, but before doing so, Mr. President, if you would like to say anything we would be just delighted to hear you.

THE PRESIDENT. Governor Hoff, our meeting today just confirms my belief that we can succeed in dealing with the modern problems that confront our people in the 20th century only if the Federal and State Governments are willing to work together with an exchange of ideas and information, and with the true spirit of real partnership.

The key to this partnership is communication, the White House with the statehouses. This is one of dozens of meetings that I have had with Governors during the last 3 years. I think meetings such as this one in New England serve greatly to strengthen this link between the State and the Federal Governments.

I have assured you, and I want to assure the people of New England, that Governor Bryant, who represents the Governors and sits in my Cabinet, will always have a strong voice in behalf of the States, and that voice will be heard and heeded.

GOVERNOR How. Thank you very much, Mr. President.

Now we will open this to questions.

GOVERNOR King. Governor Hoff?

GOVERNOR How. Governor King.


[8.] GOVERNOR KING. Mr. President, if you would talk about Ambassador Brown, I think that was very important.

THE PRESIDENT. One of the steps we have taken as a result of our meeting with the Governors heretofore was that the Secretary of State has recalled Ambassador Winthrop Brown, who was born in 1907 in the State of Maine, and who was educated in Connecticut at Yale University. He is presently the United States Ambassador to Korea, that nation of more than 30 million people which has made such rapid strides forward in development, with a growth this year in excess of 12 percent. He will return to Washington to be the Special Assistant to the Secretary of State, with liaison with the statehouses of the Nation.

Ambassador Brown will be the link between the President and the Secretary of State and the respective Governors of the States in connection with all matters concerning our relations with other nations.

Of course, he will be available to brief the Governors and their cabinets at any time upon their request. He will also be an enlightened voice in presenting their views in connection with imports and exports, in connection with the many problems they have in their States as related to other nations.

Ambassador Brown will be leaving Korea shortly and taking up his duties in Washington.


[9.] GOVERNOR HOFF. We will now open this conference to questions. We will confine this portion of the press conference to 10 minutes. We prefer that you ask your questions on the problems on the agenda.


[10.] Q. Mr. President, in your remarks to the Governors you listed four urgent needs, including urban areas that are eyesores to look at and miseries to inhabit. Locally, a $37,000 allocation for an $8 million project for Norwich was recently turned down by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Do you feel that communities with a population of some 40,000 people should have representation in Washington to keep city councils abreast of changing Federal requirements, or should Federal agencies which realize that from 6 months to a year go into the preparation of applications, place more emphasis on this facet of urban renewal?

GOVERNOR HOFF. That is the longest question we have heard in a long, long time. Would you just get up and paraphrase that question in your own language?

Q. What I would like to know, sir, is should Federal agencies place more emphasis on the time value localities place on preparing applications? In Norwich they spent a year preparing an application and then it was turned down because of changing specifications from HUD. What is your feeling on that? Should HUD be more aware of the problems?

GOVERNOR HOFF. I would say by way of preliminary remarks, if I may, that, Mr. President, it would be almost impossible for him to be conversant with that type of a detailed question. With that preliminary remark, I would think it would be very difficult for anybody, as President of the United States, to know conversantly what has happened with an application with respect to a particular area without at least an opportunity to do something in the way of research on it.

THE PRESIDENT. I would like to observe this: that HUD is now receiving applications from all over the Nation, from cities of varied sizes, from the very smallest to the very largest, from cities of 7,000 or 8,000 to cities the size of New York and Chicago.

We are doing everything we can to minimize the problems involved in those applications. We have had a good many complaints about the requirements, about the delays, and the various steps involved in the processing of them. I have talked to small mayors, and only last week the mayor of Chicago 3 came to Washington to discuss some of these very problems.

3 Richard J. Daley.

We want every city to present to us not just an application, but a statement of their views of the situation that confronts them, and give us any lead as to how we can, within the law, be helpful, cooperative, and supplement the work that they are doing.

We have before the Congress numerous pieces of legislation, and appropriations, that will be available to those cities to help correct blighted areas, to help in the poverty field, to help develop modern cities, to provide supplemental rent, to increase housing construction, and so on.

We believe the Congress will favorably act upon these measures, although on a very reduced scale from the request made by the administration.

In the light of the funds that are given us, we will act promptly on all applications and try to make every dollar as effective as possible.


[11.] Q. Mr. President, under proposal at this time is a study linking a bridge to be built across Long Island Sound. Has your conference--I believe this question deals with transportation and economics--has your administration studied this proposal or has it circumnavigated it?

GOVERNOR DEMPSEY. Mr. President, could I help you? I believe the bridge in question, sir, was a proposal that was submitted to the State of Connecticut several months ago by the State of New York.

Upon receiving the report on this bridge that would connect these two States, Connecticut immediately turned over all of the reports to a committee. This committee is now working on it. Since the original report came to us from Governor Rockefeller, a change in location has been advocated.

We are taking the very latest report from the State of New York and the same committee is now working with New York on this very report. Just as soon as we have any news on it, we will release it to you immediately. As a matter of fact, before the Connecticut General Assembly, as of today, is a bill which calls for money to be expended on this so-called report.


[12.] Q. Mr. President, in the case of Ambassador Brown, you mentioned that he would be available to the State officials for discussions of export-import, and so forth. Will he also cover all facets of foreign policy, for example, Southeast Asia, and so forth, if called upon to do so?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I am sorry. I had intended to say that he would be the liaison between the Secretary of State and the Governors in connection with all problems between the States and the Federal Government and other nations; and that he would brief them when they desired it, upon request, in connection with all of our relations with other nations--Southeast Asia, the Kennedy Round, the deployment of troops from Europe, and so forth.

Q. This is not just New England Governors?

THE PRESIDENT. No. This is the 50 Governors, all Governors.

Q. And not just economic affairs?

THE PRESIDENT. No. It has to do with everything that the Secretary of State could do with them. He will be his representative. The Secretary of State briefs them regularly and takes up questions like the Kennedy Round, bringing home troops from Europe, forces in Southeast Asia, foreign aid, Alliance for Progress.

Ambassador Brown will speak with the voice of the Secretary of State with all the Governors, and be available to the Governors of each State, each of the 50 States and the Territories, upon request, at any time.


[13.] Q. Governor Hoff, or Mr. President, there have been some people, the State officials from New England, who have spoken out against cuts made in the Federal programs in the anticipated funds in what is being allocated now.

I was wondering if the President would care to comment on perhaps the 89th Congress being too generous in the original passing of these programs, and what are the chances of the restoration of some of these funds. I am thinking in particular of the water pollution program.

THE PRESIDENT. I would not anticipate what the Congress will do this year. We have submitted our budget. It is now being reviewed by the appropriate committees. In most instances they have not even passed the House committee as of now.

The President's budget was submitted in January, and while some reductions were made last year in the President's budget items, there were also some increases in the field of health and education over and above what the President requested.

I believe that the Congress will be prudent and will certainly not give the executive all the money we ask in every field, as has been indicated by the action it has taken on rent supplements, Teacher Corps, and model cities.

But I hope and pray that those reductions will not be too severe and that we may carry on a good program. We are very anxious to--to the extent the Congress will give us the funds. The quality of the membership in the Congress is very good. There is no section in the Nation that is better represented than the people of New England. I am grateful for the cooperation of their Congressmen and their Senators. I believe when the session ends I won't get everything the President has asked for, and the Congress will not get everything as they would have it, but I think there will be a general area of agreement that will give us a good program for the coming year.

GOVERNOR How. That concludes the press conference.

I am aware that there are some of you who may have some questions you wish to pose to individual Governors. If so, I think to a man they would be prepared to talk to you at a mutually agreeable time and place. We thank you for coming.

Mr. President, you have honored us and you have honored the New England States. Thank you very much.

Note: The press briefing was held in the auditorium of the National Guard Building at Bradley Field, Conn., at 4:35 p.m. on Monday, May 15, 1967, following the Governors conference.

See also Item 222.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Press Briefing With the Governors Following the New England Governors Conference. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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